Tag: Alimony Reform Florida

Alimony Reform, Marriage Length, and Permanent Alimony

Does the length of your marriage matter for alimony anymore? Some people are asking that after a recent decision by a Florida appeals court re-wrote the rules for measuring what a long-term marriage is. The Regular Session of the Florida legislature convened in January, and alimony reform is a hot topic in Tallahassee.

Trouble in Tallahassee

The Florida House of Representatives is currently convening in Tallahassee to debate House Bill 843 on Dissolution of Marriage. The bill makes a few changes to the divorce statutes, especially alimony.

The bill also redefines the amount and duration for bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational alimony, prohibits ordering a spouse who retired prior to a divorce to pay any alimony, except temporary alimony, unless the court determines otherwise and allows payors to modify alimony up to 12 months before his or her anticipated retirement.

The bill removes presumptions about the length of a short, moderate, or long-term marriage, eliminating permanent alimony (but allowing it if agreed to), prioritizing bridge-the-gap alimony, followed by rehabilitative alimony, before any other form.

Meanwhile, across town in Tallahassee, a recent appeals case from the First District Court of Appeal may throw fuel on the fire. After 16 years and 11 months of marriage, a husband asked for dissolution of the marriage.

The judge granted permanent alimony to the wife. The husband appealed saying the trial court should not have awarded permanent alimony, and should instead have given her durational alimony.

Why? The husband argued they were only married 16 years and 11 months — that’s just one-month shy of the statutory presumption of a “long-term” marriage under Florida statutes. But the trial court treated his marriage as if it were a long-term marriage of 17-years or more – even though it clearly was less.

Florida and the Length of Marriage

In Florida, the duration of a marriage always played a very important role in divorce cases. I’ve written about the types of alimony awards available in Florida before. For instance, Florida Statutes dealing with alimony specifically limit the type of alimony awards based on the duration of the marriage.

For determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage less than 7-years, a moderate-term marriage is greater than 7-years but less than 17-years, and long-term marriage is 17-years or greater.

Florida defines the duration of marriage as the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.

In addition to alimony, the duration of marriage is also a factor in property divisions. When a court distributes the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court begins with the premise of an equal split.

Changes to Alimony?

The appellate court ruled that despite the statute, being one month shy of the statutory definition of “long-term” was a de minimis period given the length of the marriage, and that the family law judge was allowed to overcome the presumption as to the length of the marriage to qualify it as a long-term marriage.

In Florida, we have a rebuttable presumption that a long-term marriage warrants an award of permanent alimony. This court argued that even if the parties’ marriage falls into the “grey area” between a long and a short-term marriage, the family judge can consider other factors beyond the duration of the marriage.

Other factors can include the earning capacity of the recipient of alimony. For instance, there was evidence that the wife’s health precludes employment. While she was just 53 years of age at the time of the divorce, her age was not a valid basis to deny permanent alimony absent evidence her relative youth would allow her to earn income sufficient to support a lifestyle consistent with that she enjoyed during the marriage.

What impact will this decision have on the Legislature, since they are considering scrapping permanent alimony altogether, and re-writing the rules around what the duration of a marriage is?

The new bill will require courts to consider the standard of living established during the marriage, and make specific consideration of the needs and necessities of life for each party after the marriage is dissolved, including a rebuttable presumption that both parties will inevitably have a lower standard of living than that which they enjoyed during the marriage.

The court of appeals opinion is here.

 

Florida Alimony Reform Sausage

It’s been said laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made. If true, then it’s best you not read the two new Florida alimony reform bills recently introduced into the Florida House and Senate. For the unafraid, below are a few provisions of the House bill worth watching.

Alimony Reform

The Current Chorizo

In Florida, alimony is awarded to a spouse when there is a need for it, and the other spouse has the ability to pay for alimony. As I have written before, alimony can take various forms.

For example, alimony can be awarded to “bridge the gap” between married and single life. This is usually a short-term form of alimony, and in fact, can’t exceed two years.

Alimony can be rehabilitative – to help a party in establishing the capacity for self-support by developing skills or credentials; or acquiring education, training, or work experience.

Durational Alimony is awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide you with economic assistance for a time after a short or moderate term marriage, or even long marriages, if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.

Permanent Alimony is awarded to provide for your needs and necessities of life as they were established during your marriage, if you lack the financial ability to meet your needs and necessities of life following a divorce.

The House Hot Dog

Alimony reform is a nationwide phenomenon.

Currently, there are two bills in Florida trying to be passed to amend our alimony statute and impact other statutes. However, many state bills, like Florida’s, are in progress, or are constantly evolving.

This year’s two bills fundamentally change many family law statutes and cases. Briefly, what we consider to be long and short marriages would change. This is an important measuring stick, because the types of alimony granted can change depending on the duration of a marriage.

Right now, for purposes of determining alimony, there is a presumption that a short-term marriage is less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage is 17 years or more.

Under the new House bill, a long-term marriage would be 20 years or more, a mid-term marriage would be more than 11 years but less than 20 years, and a short-term marriage would be a marriage of less than 11 years.

Another proposed change concerns the type of alimony. Right now, when a court determines the type and amount of alimony, the court weighs several factors, including, the standard of living, the age and the physical and emotional condition of the parties and sources of income available to pay alimony.

Under the new House bill, a trial court awarding alimony would have to prioritize an award of bridge-the-gap alimony, followed by rehabilitative alimony, over any other forms of alimony. Additionally, the new bill eliminates permanent alimony.

The Equal Time-Sharing Bratwurst

Florida has a public policy that each child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or divorce and tries to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.

However, there is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying a parenting plan of the child.

The new House bill would dramatically alter the law. The proposed bill would make it Florida law that equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is in the best interest of the child unless the court finds one of the stated reasons not to.

The House bill is available here.

 

Alimony for Him

Score another win for the women’s rights movement, but I’m guessing it’s not a win women will celebrate. In a surprise twist in the age of #equalpay, more women in divorce are having to pay alimony to their ex-husbands.

Hear Me Roar!

As MarketWatch reports, an increasing number of women are paying alimony and child support when their marriages break up, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Some 54% of the attorneys surveyed have seen an increase in women paying child support in the last three years, and 45% noticed an uptick in women paying alimony.

Despite complaints about the women’s pay gap, the trend of women paying alimony is being seen as a sign of women’s growing earning power. But experience is also showing that having to pay a man alimony is a bitter pill to swallow for women.

Florida Alimony

I’ve written about alimony, and alimony reform in Florida, many times. In every dissolution of marriage case, the court can grant alimony to either party – husband or wife.

Not many people realize there are several types of alimony in Florida: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony.

Florida courts can also award a combination of alimony types in a divorce. Alimony awards are normally paid in periodic payments, but sometimes the payments can be in a lump sum or both lump sum and periodic payments.

In determining whether to award alimony or not, the court has to first make a determination as to whether a wife or a husband, has an actual need for alimony, and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony.

Once a court determines there is a need and ability to pay alimony, it has to decide the proper type and amount of alimony. In doing so, the court considers several factors, some of which can include:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate.

But, the gender of the recipient is not a statutory basis for granting or denying alimony. Courts are supposed to be blind to gender in alimony awards.

The Future is Female!

Many women, no matter how educated, how professional, how modern they are, are surprised to learn that they might have to pay alimony. In the past, maybe mom was a kindergarten teacher and dad was working on Wall Street. For example:

  • In 1960, just 11% of households with children under 18 had mothers who were the breadwinner.
  • In 2013, moms were the primary provider in a record 40% of families, a 2013 Pew Research Center report found.
  • Some 31.4% of single dads who have custody of their kids received spousal support in 2016, and 52.3% of moms did.

The average amount of child support was $5,774 per year, or about $329 a month, but only 68.5% of that money was actually received, according to Census data.

Equality Includes Both Genders!

Paying alimony is something Sarah Gilbert never thought she would have to do, but the 44-year-old mom of three boys now sends $349 a month to her ex-husband. The Portland, Ore. resident says the experience has made her never want to get married again, even though she’s now in a happy relationship.

Her husband was a stockbroker when they first met, then he left the financial world to join the U.S. Army. After the military, he struggled to find work and was unemployed when they split. She was shocked when a judge gave her ex-husband primary custody and ordered Gilbert to pay monthly support.

The jaw dropped out of my mouth. I literally could not believe it. Had I been working a corporate job, I would have expected to pay spousal support to him, but I was a tour guide.

As a defense to paying alimony, working women going through a divorce will sometimes argue that their husbands are underemployed and could have earned much more than if he worked harder.

But the reality is, if during the course of the marriage, you and your husband agreed he’d earn less, work less, and you took on the role of the primary breadwinner, you’re going to pay that support.

The MarketWatch article is here.

 

New Alimony Penalty

The GOP proposed tax plan has something for everyone. Including a huge surprise for divorcing couples: a tax penalty for divorce. The new law may dramatically change how we treat alimony for taxes, and whether your case will settle.

As Business Insider reports, the tax bill released last week could drastically change the tax treatment of alimony. Currently, alimony is tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable to the receiving spouse.

But if you get divorced after the plan is enacted, that would change: Alimony would be paid out of after-tax dollars and would be tax-free to the recipient.

This change would tend to increase the total amount of tax paid by divorced couples, since the ex-spouse who pays alimony is typically the one with the higher income and who faces a higher tax bracket.

Florida Alimony

In Florida a court can grant alimony to either party. There are different types of alimony a court can order: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent, or any combination of these forms of alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both.

The court can even consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.

But the very first finding the court has to make in determining whether to award alimony is whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance.

If so, the court must consider all relevant factors, including, the standard of living established during the marriage; the duration of the marriage, the age and the physical and emotional condition of each party, and the financial resources of each party, among other factors.

Alimony Tax Reform

I have written about alimony and taxes, and alimony reform proposals for many years. This time the proposal comes from Congress, no the Florida Legislature.

All told, the proposed change under the tax proposal would lead to the federal government collecting an additional $8.3 billion in taxes from divorced couples over the next 10 years, according to the bill summary.

Arguably, imposing such a substantial tax penalty on divorce could encourage people to stick it out and make their marriages work. But it could also financially trap people in unhappy marriages.

One argument for this change is that it would be easier for the IRS to administer, and IRS data shows that alimony sometimes shows up deducted on one ex-spouse’s return but is not reported as income by the other ex-spouse.

The Impact on Divorces

There are many ways to settle a divorce case and render a judgment. And, one of the most important facts to consider in any divorce is the tax deduction for alimony payments.

Overwhelmingly, divorces include some sort of alimony payment provision. The problem for the new tax bill is that if couples are less likely to reach an agreement on alimony, divorce proceedings could become more gridlocked, time consuming and expensive.

The Business Insider article is here.

 

Pet Alimony?

Sarah Bronilla is suing her ex-husband, Joshua Rosen, for over $32,000 in alimony. No, not alimony for herself, but for their pampered English bulldog, Lola. The case arising out of New York may be one of the first “dogimony” cases.

As the New York Daily News reports, when Sarah Bronilla and Joshua Rosen separated in 2012 – after six years of marriage – Rosen agreed he would pay Bronilla $200 in monthly “dogimony”, she says in her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit against him for pet alimony.

Florida Alimony

In Florida, alimony is governed by the Florida Statutes and relevant case law. The starting point in any alimony case is whether there is an actual need for alimony by a spouse, and the ability of the paying spouse to pay for alimony.

However, Florida Statutes are silent as to pet alimony.

I have written about divorce and pet issues several times. Pet custody, or who gets the pet dog, is a frequent problem. Alaska became the first state to enact a pet custody law.

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in Rhode Island which is very similar to the law of Alaska which was enacted this year. The Rhode Island bill requires judges to “consider the best interest of the animal” in a divorce or separation. Currently, there is no such provision in the works in Florida.

Florida does not have any pet specific custody or divorce laws. In fact, the alimony law is written in such a way that the court can only grant alimony to a party, not a pet of the parties.

Just because there is no specific law authorizing pet alimony does not mean: ‘that dog won’t hunt!’ People are free to enter into marital settlement agreements which make provision for support, such as pet alimony, that the law does not.

Those contracts could be enforceable as Mr. Rosen in New York may find out.

New York Pet Alimony

According to the New York complaint, Rosen not only agreed he would pay $200 in monthly pet alimony, or “dogimony”, Rosen also agreed to cover total food costs and half of the vet bills for the pet dog.

But the ‘deadbeat dog dad’ has skipped out on his financial obligations for pet alimony, Bronilla alleges in the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Bronilla says she has had to cover $12,000 for upkeep, $18,000 for food and $2,335 for health costs for the pooch, described as “fawn-colored” in the lawsuit.

In addition to the unpaid pet alimony, Bronilla claims Rosen owes her around another $100,000 related to their settlement agreement, including money from a portion of a business he sold.

The New York Daily News article is here.

 

Florida Alimony Reform: R.I.P.

Alimony reform in Florida will have to wait. With 35 days left in the Legislative session, the bills are not getting a hearing in either the House or the Senate, meaning the alimony reform bills will likely die in committee.

Florida Alimony

In Florida, alimony is awarded to a spouse when there is a need for it, and the other spouse has the ability to pay for alimony. Alimony can take various forms.

For example, alimony can be awarded to “bridge the gap” between married and single life. This is usually a short term form of alimony, and in fact, can’t exceed two years.

Alimony can also be rehabilitative – to help a party in establishing the capacity for self-support by developing skills or credentials; or acquiring education, training, or work experience. The underlying goal is to get you into a position where you can take care of expenses without assistance.

Durational Alimony is awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide you with economic assistance for a time after a short or moderate term marriage, or even long marriages, if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.

Permanent Alimony is awarded to provide for your needs and necessities of life as they were established during your marriage, if you lack the financial ability to meet your needs and necessities of life following a divorce. However, a court has to find that there is no other form of alimony that would be fair and reasonable.

Although people often think of alimony as paid on a monthly basis, it can be awarded in a lump sum or be a combination of the two. In making a determination of whether or not to award alimony, the court may consider non-monetary factors.

Alimony Reform

Alimony reform is a nationwide phenomenon. A few states have already limited alimony, especially in cases where the marriage is less than 20 years.

Florida is not alone in moving for alimony reform. Currently, there are two bills in Florida trying to be passed to amend our alimony statute. However, many state bills, like Florida’s, are in progress, or are constantly evolving.

Unlike child support, which is common when a divorcing couple has kids, alimony awards have always been very rare, going from about 25% of cases in the 1960s to about 10% today. In one study of Wisconsin cases, it was only 8.6%.

Florida’s Alimony Reform Bill

This year’s bills would have provided judges with a set of guidelines for calculating alimony, and would also have provided judges and lawyers reasons to deviate from the proposed alimony guidelines in special cases.

I wrote about the failure of the alimony reform bills before. First, in 2015, when the Florida House of Representatives made a surprising end of their session, killing all bills.

Last year, Governor Scott vetoed a similar bill, but last year’s bill had a major difference. Last year’s bill added a provision that made equal timesharing a presumption in every case. Because of the equal timesharing presumption, the governor vetoed last year’s bill.

Withering on the Vine

For people who oppose alimony reform, there is good news: the bills are dead for the year. Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, the Naples Republican who’s carrying the Senate version (SB 412), this week said the chair of its first committee of reference refused to hear the alimony bill.

“Chairman Garcia determined that he was not interested in hearing it and I respect that decision,” Passidomo said. “I don’t think leadership weighed in on it.”

Sen. Passidomo also noted that the House version of the bill (HB 283), sponsored by Lakeland Republican state Rep. Colleen Burton, has also not gotten a hearing. Given that the House subcommittees are wrapping up work this week, that virtually dooms the legislation there.

The Florida Politics article is available here.

 

Alimony & Short Marriages

Married at First Sight’s Sonia Granados and Nick Pendergrast are filing for divorce “after almost a year of marriage.” The length of your marriage may impact the amount and length of alimony.

Married at First Sight

According to US Magazine, the could reports:

“We are sad to share that after almost a year of marriage we have decided to separate and file for divorce. Thank you in advance for your love and support through this difficult time! We look forward to growing and continuing to learn about ourselves from what we still consider to be a meaningful experience with MAFS.”

Florida Alimony

Alimony is governed in Florida by a statute. The alimony statute requires judges to consider several factors, including the duration of the marriage.

For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years.

Florida Alimony Reform

However, Florida has been struggling in an alimony reform battle for years. I have been reporting on the alimony reform movement for years. This year, the Legislature is considering a bill that sets out a formula for judges to use when deciding alimony payments.

The House Alimony Bill, which would take effect October 1st if passed, would set guidelines for judges to set alimony based on the duration of marriages and the incomes of the parties. If a judge deviates from the guidelines they would have to explain why in writing.

The bill replaces permanent alimony with new formulas based on the length of the marriage, and the spouses’ incomes. Those formulas help set the amount and duration of the payments.

Also, the alimony reform bill re-defines marriages for purposes of alimony. Marriage would be divided into “low end” and “high end” marriages based on the length of the marriage.

Under the proposed alimony reform bill, in marriages of 2 years or less, there is a rebuttable presumption that no alimony shall be awarded.

For purposes of calculating the presumptive alimony amount range, 20 years of marriage or less shall be used in calculating the low end and high end for marriages of 20 years or more.

Short Marriages & Alimony

The former stars of Married at first Sight, Granados and Pendergrast were married for less than 1 year, and under the alimony reform bill would not be entitled to alimony.

The pair met on season 4 of the television series, and struggled early on in their relationship. Granados was scared of dogs (he owned one), and felt that he wasn’t physically attracted to her and that he lacked emotion.

The US Magazine article is here.

Alimony Reform Update: The Case of Massachusetts

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Monday, February 29, 2016.

Four years after Massachusetts passed alimony reform, a corrective alimony bill was filed to address three Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rulings which limited the law.

The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 went into effect on March 1, 2012. The new law limited when alimony can be paid, added cohabitation language, an end date for alimony – such as retirement and cohabitation – and created new types of alimony.

However, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in three 2015 decisions, held that the retirement provisions only apply prospectively, they did not apply retroactively, and that cohabitation was not a material change of circumstances that warrants modification of alimony.

I’ve been discussing legislative changes in Florida for a while. As the Legislature is in session, they are debating HB 0455, a bill relating to alimony.

Similar to Massachusetts’ attempt at alimony reform, Florida’s alimony reform bill will also involve retirement and cohabitation provisions. For instance, it will:

– Provide that a payor’s retirement after reaching the retirement age for social security or the obligor’s profession, constitutes a substantial change in circumstances for purposes of modifying or terminating an alimony award.

– Revise the criteria to determine cohabitation for purposes of modifying or terminating an alimony award

– Create a rebuttable presumption that modification or termination of an alimony award is retroactive to the date of the petition for relief.

In addition, the HB 0455 will:

– Provide factors to assist a court in awarding temporary alimony during dissolution proceedings.

– Repeal the current categorization of post-dissolution alimony awards as bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent and creates one form of post-dissolution alimony.

– Establish a formula to determine a presumptive range for the amount and duration of the award, effectively ending permanent alimony.

– Provide factors to assist a court in determining a post-dissolution alimony award within the presumptive range.

– Authorize a court to deviate from the presumptive range if the resulting alimony award would be inappropriate or inequitable.

If the bill becomes law, it will be effective October 1, 2016. The Florida legislative session ends March 11th. Until then, there are a lot of bills pending which will significantly impact family law in Florida.

The Fox News Boston article and video are here.

Florida Alimony Reform 2015: R.I.P.

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Friday, May 1, 2015.

As I boldly predicted in March, the Florida House would end session early, leave while the Senate was in session, and kill the alimony reform bill. OK, I didn’t predict this at all, but what does this mean for alimony reform?

parliament-fight2-thumb-350x233-55422

As the Palm Beach Post reports in an excellent article which I quote lengthy from:

after a year of wheeling-and-dealing by lawyers, lawmakers and others, the alimony proposal died when the Senate refused to take up the House’s version of the bill.

I’ve written about the differences between the bills before. The House proposal didn’t go as far as Senator Lee wanted. Lee said language about child sharing in the House bill was “poorly drafted” and “designed to create confusion in the courts.”

House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman accused Lee of being a “bully” and “hijacking” the bill for his own reasons.

The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar supported the alimony overhaul but strongly opposed the Senate’s 50-50 timesharing provisions, one of the reasons Scott gave for his veto of the 2013 version.

“Workman accused Lee of having a personal grudge about the issue because of Lee’s own child custody dispute.

“What he cares about is getting back at the judge that didn’t give him 50-50 time share 15 years ago or whenever he got divorced,” he said.

Lee said his views had nothing to do with his own situation.

“I actually have 50-50 custody of my children. So, nice try.”

Lee said the bill was doomed because the House left before he could work out his objections to the time-sharing guidelines.

The truth is he He killed his own bill because he made commitments to an organization [the Florida Bar Family Law Section ed.] that didn’t need a bill.”

Workman accused the Lee of “extortion”. “Don’t come back now and cry me a river over a problem that he created for himself early on in the process. Hopefully there’s a lot of learning that comes out of this,” he said.

Lee said he intends to file the bill again next year if Stargel is not involved. “If she isn’t, it will be Senate Bill 2. I will file it and if they don’t want to move it next year then we’ll move it in 2017 when he’s no longer a member of the Florida Legislature,” Lee said of Workman.

The excellent review in the Palm Beach Post is available here.

Alimony Reform: Introducing Alimony Guidelines

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Monday, November 18, 2013.

Reform is in the air. Florida legislators are already speaking about a new bill to modify alimony. But it is not just Florida reviewing its alimony laws, other states are in various stages of reviewing and amending their state laws too.

The most recent change is Colorado, where couples will face dramatic changes in the way alimony is considered after a new state law goes into effect on January 1st. According to the Denver Post:

“It’s groundbreaking legislation,” said Heidi Culbertson, director of client development at the Harris Law Firm, which specializes in family law. “For the first time, Colorado will have a formula for maintenance.”

It is part of a national alimony reform movement, with many state legislatures seeking to either limit or standardize spousal maintenance payments. In particular, the focus has been on the lack of consistency in maintenance orders, which resulted in perceptions of unfairness and the inability to predict outcomes.

Along with Florida, a number of states – like Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New Jersey – have considered introducing alimony guidelines to calculate alimony the way all states use child support guidelines to calculate child support payments.

The Colorado law provides a formula for the calculation of alimony. Alimony is equal to 40% of the higher income party’s monthly adjusted gross income less 50% of the lower income party’s monthly adjusted gross income. There are exceptions, and there is a cap.

The new statute does not apply to families with joint income over $300,000. For those cases, courts will continue to weigh a number of discretionary factors, including the parties’ unique financial circumstances and the length of the marriage.

Interestingly, Colorado’s alimony guidelines are only advisory to the courts, a sort of starting point in deciding how much and for how long an alimony award should be. The judges still maintain discretion. This is very unlike child support, where the discretion of a trial court is mostly removed.